Finding plants to grow in a hot, dry border can sometimes be tricky. Bearded irises will thrive in these conditions, and require very little care or watering once their roots are firmly established.
Bearded irises only flower well if their rhizomes get baked in full sun, while their grey-green leaves reflect the heat, helping to reduce water loss. The flowers come in a range of bright and exotic colours, and they bloom from mid-May to mid-June.
The best time to plant bearded irises is from June to October, for flowers the following year. Immediately after flowering is the best time to lift and divide existing clumps. Irises come in three main sizes: dwarf varieties, which are about 15cm tall; intermediates, which reach 60cm in height; and tall varieties, which grow up to 1.2m. With such a wealth of options, you can usually find a variety to fill any gap in a sunny border.
Weed regularly by hand, to stop them taking hold. It’s impossible to hoe round iris without damaging the rhizomes, so don’t try.